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Information does not physically exist​

December 31, 2017 Leave a comment

mapterrAlfred Korzybski famously said “the map is not the territory”. To the extent that this is true, it should be understood to reveal that “information is not physics”. If there is a mapping function, there is no reason to consider it part of physics, and in fact that convention comes from an assumption of physicalism rather than a discovery of physical maps. There is no valid hypothesis of a physical mechanism for one elemental phenomenon or event to begin to signify another as a “map”.​ Physical phenomena include ‘formations’ but there is nothing physical which could or should transform them ‘in’ to anything other than different formations.

A bit or elementary unit of information has been defined as ‘a difference that makes a difference’. While physical phenomena seem *to us* to make a difference, it would be anthropomorphizing to presume that they are different or make a difference to each other. ​Difference and making a difference seem to depend on some capacity for detection, discernment, comparison, and evaluation. These seem to be features of conscious sense and sense making rather than physical cause and effect.​ The more complete context of the quote about a difference which makes a difference has to do with neural pathways and an implicit readiness to be triggered.

In Bateson’s paper, he says “In fact, what we mean by information—the elementary unit of information—is a difference which makes a difference, and it is able to make a difference because the neural pathways along which it travels and is continually transformed are themselves provided with energy. The pathways are ready to be triggered. We may even say that the question is already implicit in them.”​ In my view this ‘readiness’ is a projection of non-physical properties of sense and sense making onto physical structures and functions. If there are implicit ‘questions’ on the neural level, I suggest that they cannot be ‘in them’ physically, and the ‘interiority’ of the nervous system or other information processors is figurative rather than literal.​

My working hypothesis is that information is produced by sense-making, which in turn is dependent upon more elemental capacities for sense experience.​ Our human experience is a complex hybrid of sensations which seem to us to be embodied through biochemistry and sense-making experiences which seem to map intangible perceptions outside of those tangible biochemical mechanisms. The gap between the biochemical sensor territories and the intangible maps we call sensations are a miniaturized view of the same gap that exists at the body-mind level.

Tangibility itself may not be an ontological fact, but rather a property that emerges from the nesting of sense experience. There may be no physical territory or abstract maps, only sense-making experiences of sense experiences. There may be a common factor which links concrete territories and abstract maps, however.​ The common factor cannot be limited to the concrete/abstract dichotomy, but it must be able to generate those qualities which appear dichotomous in that way.​ To make this common factor universal rather than personal, qualia or sense experience could be considered an absolute ground of being. George Berkeley said “Esse est percipi (To be is to be perceived)”, implying that perception is the fundamental fabric of existence. Berkeley’s idealism conceived of God as the ultimate perceiver whose perceptions comprise all being, however it may be that the perceiver-perceived dichotomy is itself a qualitative distinction which relies on an absolute foundation of ‘sense’ that can be called ‘pansense’ or ‘universal qualia’.​

In personal experience, the appearance of qualities is known by the philosophical term ‘qualia’ but can also be understood as received sensations, perceptions, feelings, thoughts, awareness and consciousness. Consciousness can be understood as ‘the awareness of awareness’, while awareness can be ‘the perception of perception’.​Typically we experience the perceiver-perceived dichotomy, however practitioners of advanced meditation techniques and experiencers of mystical states of consciousness report a quality of perceiverlessness which defies our expectation of perceiver-hood as a defining or even necessary element of perception. This could be a clue that transpersonal awareness transcends distinction itself, providing a universality which is both unifying, diversifying, and re-unifying.​ Under the idea of pansense, God could either exist or not exist, or both, but God’s existence would either have to be identical with or subordinate to pensense. God cannot be unconscious and even God cannot create his own consciousness.

It could be thought that making the category of perception absolute makes it just as meaningless as calling it physical, however the term ‘perception’ has a meaning even in an absolute sense in that it positively asserts the presence of experience, whereas the term ‘physical’ is more generic and meaningless.​ Physical could be rehabilitated as a term which refers to tangible geometric structures encountered directly or indirectly during waking consciousness. Intangible forces and fields should be understood to be abstract maps of metaphysical influences on physical appearances. What we see as biology, chemistry, and physics may in fact be part of a map in which a psychological sense experience makes sense of other sense experiences by progressively truncating their associated microphenomenal content.

Information is associated with Entropy, but entropy ultimately isn’t purely physical either.​ The association between information and entropy is metaphorical rather than literal.​ The term ‘entropy’ is used in many different contexts with varying degrees of rigor. The connection between information entropy and thermodynamic entropy comes from statistical mechanics. Similar statistical mechanical formulas can be applied to both the probability of physical microstates (Boltzmann, Gibbs) and the probability of ‘messages’ (Shannon), however probability derives from our conscious desire to count and predict, not from that which is being counted and predicted.

“Gain in entropy always means loss of information, and nothing more”. To be more concrete, in the discrete case using base two logarithms, the reduced Gibbs entropy is equal to the minimum number of yes–no questions needed to be answered in order to fully specify the microstate, given that we know the macrostate.” ​- Wikipedia

Information can be considered negentropy also:

“Shannon considers the uncertainty in the message at its source, whereas Brillouin considers it at the destination” – physics.stackexchange.com

Information is surprise

Thermodynamic entropy can be surprising in the sense that it becomes more difficult to predict the microstate of any individual particle, but unsurprising in the sense that the overall appearance of equilibrium is both a predictable, unsurprising conclusion and it is an appearance which implies the loss of potential to generate novelty or surprise.​ Also, surprise is not a physical condition.​

Heat death is a cosmological end game scenario which is maximally entropic in thermodynamic terms but lacks any potential for novelty or surprise. If information is surprise, then high information would correlate to high thermodynamic negentropy.​ The Big Bang is a cosmological creation scenario which follows from a state of minimal entropy in which novelty and surprise are also lacking until the Big Bang occurs. If information is surprise, then low information would correlate to high thermodynamic negentropy.​

The qualification of ‘physical’ has evolved and perhaps dissolved to a point where it threatens to lose all meaning.​ In the absence of a positive assertion of tangible ‘stuff’ which does not take tangibility itself for granted, the modern sense of physical has largely blurred the difference between the abstract and concrete, mathematical theory and phenomenal effects, and overlooks the significance of that blurring. Considering physical a category of perceptions gives meaning to both categories in that nature is conceived as being intrinsically experiential with physical experiences being those in which the participatory element is masked or alienated by a qualitative perceiver-subject/perceived-object sense of distinction. The physical is perceived by the subject which perceives itself to possess a participatory subjectivity that the object lacks.

Information depends on a capacity to create (write) and detect (read) contrasts between higher and lower entropy. In that sense it is meta-entropic and either the high or low entropy state can be foregrounded as signal or backgrounded as noise. The absence of both signal and noise on one level can also be information, and thus a signal, on another level.​ What constitutes a signal at in the most direct frame of reference is defined by the meta-signifying capacity of “sense” to deliver sense-experience. If there is no sense experience, there is nothing to signify or make-sense-of. If there is no sense-making experience, then there is nothing to do with the sense of contrasting qualities to make them informative.

The principle of causal closure in physics, would, if true, prevent any sort of ‘input’ or receptivity. Physical activity reduces to chains of causality which are defined by spatiotemporal succession. A physical effect differs from a physical cause only in that the cause precedes the effect. Physical causality therefore is a succession of effects or outputs acting on each other, so that any sense of inputs or affect on to physics would be an anthropomorphic projection.​

The lack of acknowlegement of input/affect as a fundamental requirement for natural phenomena is an oversight that may arise from a consensus of psychological bias toward stereotypically ‘masculine’ modes of analysis and away from ‘feminine’ modes of empathy. Ideas such as Imprinted Brain Theory, Autistic-Psychotic spectrum, and Empathizing-Systemizing theory provide a starting point for inquiries into the role that overrepresentation of masculine perspectives in math, physics, and engineering play in the development of formal theory and informal political influence in the academic adoption of theories.

Criticisms? Support? Join the debate on Kialo.

The Spirit of the Law

August 9, 2016 2 comments

The distinction between “The letter of the law” and “The spirit of the law” is a good way to understand the relation of consciousness to matter or to computation. Specifically, when we talk about the spirit of the law, we are speaking metaphorically. We don’t actually mean that there is a spiritual force radiating from paragraphs of text in legal documents which have a conscious intent. When we talk about the letter of the law, we are being much more literal (literally literal). The letter of the law refers to the actual written code that is recorded on paper, or stone tablets somewhere and copied from one physical medium to another.

To be literal about it, we would say the Spirit (or motive) behind the creation of the law. The law itself is inert. It is purely a medium to contain and transport a reference to the lawgiver’s motive, so that the motive can be actualized in the behaviors of those who follow the law. Laws don’t write themselves, and they don’t follow themselves. Their existence depends entirely on a world of agents and their efforts to influence each other.

The same is true of the relation between conscious experience, which is irreducibly sensory-motive, and external forms and functions which act as reflective mediums or vehicles for conscious experience. Like the letters of the law, physical forms or logical functions have no teleological motive. Those who mistake forms for having the potential to develop consciousness do so as a result of identifying too literally with their body and the experiences that they have through their body of its world of bodies and objects.

When we think too literally, we overlook the enormous gulf between the literal code of law (including the laws of physics or laws of mathematics) and the motive behind the giving and following of law. We begin to imagine that bodies or computer programs can become so complex that some spirit with sense and motive can ‘emerge’ from them. When someone argues that we will eventually discover the function of the brain which produces consciousness, or develop a program which will simulate consciousness, they are making an assumption about the relation between consciousness and the forms which it reflects back to itself. Translating this assumption into the context of law, it is an argument which says that there is no immaterial ‘spirit of the law’, so that therefore there must be a complicated set of legal codes which we mistake for such a ‘spirit’.  For many this assumption is in the blind spot of their intellect so that they are incapable of knowing that they are even making an assumption at all, let alone that it could be an oversight which is ‘emergent’ from their way of thinking about it.

The reason that forms and functions cannot create conscious experience has nothing to do with our current level of technological development, rather the reason is that the thesis that forms and functions can create consciousness is based on a reductive functionalism which breaks down when we carry the thesis out fully. Namely, our motive for reducing consciousness to physics or computation in the first place is based on principles of parsimony and sufficiency. Those same principles prohibit us from inflating physics or computation to consciousness. Consciousness cannot be justified, nor can any emergent properties which only appear within consciousness. If laws could create themselves and follow themselves, then there would be no need for any further experience of participating in either that creation or application. Like a computer program, the law would be generated automatically and a programmed chain reaction would follow. There would be no function for a sense of participation. The Hard Problem of Consciousness, translated into legal terms would ask why, if there is no spirit of the law, must lawyers ‘practice’ law instead of the law simply carrying itself out. Why would anyone argue over how a law should be ‘interpreted’?

The law ultimately is a communication between people as a way to try to maintain order in a civilization. It is not an alien life form whose body survives on ink and microfilm. Without a spirit or motivation to impart a sense of proper conduct onto other people, the law literally cannot exist as a law. In the same way, computer programs cannot exist without a motive of people to give and receive conscious experiences to each other. The letter of a program or of a physical structure cannot refer to anything by itself, and cannot act as a reference since there is no rational place for any such layer of intention. The laws of physics or mathematics don’t argue with each other. They don’t set up courts with juries to try to convince each other that one force should apply here and another should apply there. Why do we?

Trial Epilogue on MSR

May 10, 2014 2 comments

In the course of writing about Multisense Realism, I have had the unusual experience of discovering what my influences have been without having ever been directly influenced by them. As a whole, MSR seems to unintentionally brings together concepts common to Relativity, Semiotics, Depth Psychology and Hermetic Philosophy and applying them to the problems of consciousness. In these ideas I have found breadcrumb trails leading back to Whitehead, Leibniz, Deleuze, and Spinoza among many others all the way back to the Axial age. I have been accused of being Aristotelian, Hegelian, postmodernist, Creationist, solipsist, Chalmers-ite, and a Chopran, but in truth, my view can find strong agreement and strong disagreement with almost every slant on physics, philosophy, and phenomenology.  MSR points to a tessellated monism of relative absolutes and relative relatives. Here then is an attempt to encapsulate a more objective view of this view and how it fits in to the larger perspective of current models.

Privilege and Privacy

The concept of ‘frames of reference’ is used in Relativity for making objective predictions about the physical universe, but it hinges on the assumption of perspectives which, as far as I can imagine, are possible only when defined by subjective awareness of some kind. How can there be a perspective without some experience in which that perspective is presented?

In physics, the observer is a one dimensional vector, whose only function is as a fixed-point receiver of various coordinated conditions. The Berkeleyan in me calls a foul on that, since we have no evidence that any such abstract receiver can exist without some form of perception – some mode of sensory relation is assumed for the observer but it is not acknowledged. The mode of observation itself is unrecognized and overlooked except for a generic, and typically pseudo-optical fact of a means of relating factual data from a distance. What has been proposed here is that without some specific modality of concrete aesthetic experience, the notion of relativity quickly becomes incoherent. Contemporary physics assume properties and positions, but overlooks the necessity for a method of detection and comparison in the absence of sensory awareness. The question is how, if not through some form of conscious appreciation, some multiple of ‘sense’, can a frame of reference come to privilege itself as ‘here’ rather than ‘there’ or ‘now’ rather than ‘then’? What, in physical or functional terms, accounts for ‘privilege’, and it’s more familiar human expression ‘privacy’?

To answer that question, one approach that I have stumbled upon is to conceptually reverse existing models. Instead of particles in a void, think of dynamic bubbles in a plenum, or ‘whorlicles’. Instead of a literal plenum or field, think of a range of sensory acquaintance – a figurative anti-field in which the entropy of spacetime disentanglement is collapsed..

Applying this inside-out cosmology to mathematics, the number zero can only be a local temporary condition which can only exist between disconnection from and reconnection with the whole. Zero is the idea that something has about the absence of everything. If that’s true, then the underlying default-state of all nature that is not ‘nothingness’ a centering self-attraction. The Cartesian grid of spacetime becomes a polar graph which dissolves substance dualism.

polargraph

From this trick of turning math and physics assumptions on their head, a primordial identity which I call ‘pansensitivity’ can be imagined. Pansensitivity is neither a physical form nor mathematical function, not an immaterial process, but a capacity through which forms and functions are aesthetically appreciated. It is the foundational possibility for sanity as a sole reality through which all other continuations can possibly arise.

Both physics and math overlook the role of aesthetics/participation. If we ask why, it could be because they are about answering questions within the world or beyond the world, rather than questioning worldliness itself. Math-physics begins with the axioms given that there simply must be a such thing as a force or quantities. It is never seriously asked whether these givens can exist independently of some context of sensitivity.

This perspective is not wrong, and is entirely sensible given the purpose of math and physics to bring certainty and order to our understanding and control of the world. ‘Shut up and calculate’ works for physics because it never has to deal with conditions that are outside of sense. If we can’t get ever get away from consciousness, then consciousness is zeroed out. It is only when we want to question what it is that we can’t get away from that the axioms of objectivity must be challenged. Also we must consider that if it were possible that computations and physical interactions could occur entirely as objects, without awareness of any kind, then it begs the question of why it would ever be the case that awareness would or could arise at all.

While the human intellect presents an aesthetic context which feels Platonically ‘pure’ to us in the forms of logic and language, there is nevertheless an experience of what it is like to think and figure out calculations. Despite our enthusiasm for the transparency of the medium of scientific thought, we can understand that this purity is ultimately an illusion as well. If our consciousness is nothing but deterministic physical activity being shaped by evolutionary selection, then our scientific axioms can be no better. Either we have to admit that our scientific objectivity is predicated on our sense capacity and those of the instruments which we employ, or we have to admit that our sense capacity has some access to a world which genuine and not a solipsistic simulation.

Oppositivism

Pivoting from logical positivism to aesthetic ‘oppositivism’ may seem absurd, but it is not without precedent. The appeal of opposites and symmetry, especially in association with consciousness and cosmos is widespread.

The opposite of a great truth is also true – Niels Bohr

That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing – Isaac Newton’s translation of the Tabula Smaragdina.

It would seem an unlikely coincidence that so many foundational concepts have to do with opposites. From the periodic table (proton v electron) to parts of speech (nouns v verbs), we see the same expression of aesthetic contrast. It is no surprise that within Philosophy of Mind too there is a core opposition that the idealist has against the materialist and vice versa. Taking my cue from Bohr, I sought to turn the dichotomy of subject and object inside out. Instead of a seeing either an illusory subject in an objective world or a transcendental subject in an illusory world, I propose a Multisense Continuum in which subjectivity and objectivity are co-variant qualities which rise, fall, and find elaboration in nested frequencies of participatory sense. I found that there are simple relations between scale and speed that point to a possible way of scientifically accessing top-down diffraction as well as bottom-up combination.

The technique of aesthetic reversal is shown here being applied to some current science-based theories about consciousness:

IIT

Giulio Tononi’s IIT (Integrated Information Theory) posits consciousness as integrated information. Flipping that to the opposite, we can come up with something like Disintegrated Qualia, assuming my definition of information as the antithesis of qualia. I see ‘information’ as the interqualitative protocols which pansensitivity has developed to separate and reunite itself.

At first, the notion of disintegrated qualia might seem incoherent, however, when we look to the experience of how consciousness is instantiated, there does seem to be something interestingl. Waking up, or being startled into attention is an arresting begins by breaking off of a previous state of awareness (or unawareness). Before we can receive new information about what has captured our attention, the capturing itself occurs as an incoherent encounter; a brief reduction of sanity and control. Integration may be an accurate description of how consciousness functions from an outside perspective, but the subjective experience of disintegrating or dissolving qualia is an interesting way to describe the other half of the story – the subjective half. When we meditate we try to minimize the amount of information and qualia, and we feel intuitively that this is what opens us up to be *more* conscious rather than less.

Infancy and dementia are characterized by delirious qualia which do not merely lack the power to inform truthfully, but take on an otherworldly aesthetic. Insanity is feared not only for the consequences of rational malfunction, but for the fear of losing the sense of self and the world upon which all value depends. Psychosis is a profound dislocation of the frame of reference, but rather than dismissing the fact of mental illness as off-limits to a rational inquiry into consciousness, we should see the extreme alteration of consciousness as the supercollider or telescope of phenomenology.

The disintegration of qualia describes what it is like to experience the beginning and ending of awareness, where a frame of reference is raised to become privileged. Part of the privilege of private consciousness is to control this raising to some extent, or at least to participate in developing that control. As a complex organism, we have multiple levels of privacy and publicity. The human envelope of awareness extends from irresistible urges to relatively free-form imagination, with a whole spectrum in between. There is indeed an integration of information going on, but it can also be seen as the breakdown of a gestalt sense experience into multiple dimensions and modalities.

The measure used by IIT for the quality of consciousness is Φ (phi), which is a measure of qualia space in which probabilities of system states can be mapped as positions. Turning that upside down could add an anti-phi () in which qualia is conceived of as improbable or unprecedented dispositions…gestalt phenomena which are both novel and irreducible. Rather than qualities which are emergent from local connections and system states, the anti-phi qualities are divergent from the interference pattern between that which is eternal and that which is unrepeatable.

A song is both an integration of notes, and a reflection of the zeitgeist or collective experience.  Where phi is measured in the context of qualia space, anti-phi measures qualia as a spaceless, timeless ‘pinching’ of the totality into a focal presence. The anti-phi is a measure of the degree of aesthetic prestige and significance for the sake of its own appreciation.  It is through this aspect of qualia, this ‘dark math’ value which the non-local can be encountered and re-encountered in some likeable likeness. Instead of being built up from scratch, the anti-phi of qualia is diffracted or sculpted out of disintegrated/unbound pansensitivity. Spacetime serves to freeze the dreamtime of the totality, make it real, and use it to build richer qualia upon.

 

Orch OR, Penrose, and Fermat’s Last Theorem

Adding the reversal technique onto Stuart Hameroff and Sir Roger Penrose’s Orchestrated Objective Reduction can yield similarly interesting results. The opposite of an Orch OR could be described as a “Subjective Inflation” which is “de-orchestrated”. What the hell does that mean? I’ll tell you. A subjective inflation can be thought of as the stretching of the fabric of the sense of the universe so that there can exist a difference between ‘here and there’, and ‘now and then’, a difference which physics does not seem to be able to locate. What happens during a wave-function collapse is, in addition to being felt as a Bing! of awareness, can also be described from the subjective end as a dilation of privilege which is aesthetic and qualitative. De-ORchestration can be thought of as free will – the individuation of proprietary time against a backdrop frame of generic-universal spacetime. The Orch OR explains what role subjectivity plays in the world from an outside perspective, but the De-Orch SI explains what role the creation of realism plays for the interior perspective.

In Penrose’s interpretations of Gödel’s incompleteness he says:

The inescapable conclusion seems to be: Mathematicians are not using a knowably sound calculation procedure in order to ascertain mathematical truth. We deduce that mathematical understanding – the means whereby mathematicians arrive at their conclusions with respect to mathematical truth – cannot be reduced to blind calculation!

This was echoed in the poster presentation at the TSC conference from James Tagg, in which he made the point of non-computability concrete by applying the spirit of Penrose’s conclusions to compose music based on Sir Andrew Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s Last theorem.  Because Hilbert’s 10th problem was answered negatively (by Yuri Matiyasevich in 1970), there is a discrepancy between the proof that no general algorithm can exist to solve Fermat’s last theorem and the fact that a human mathematician was in fact able to resolve it. To resolve that discrepancy, it seems reasonable to conclude that Wiles solved the theorem using methods that go beyond a general algorithm. To quote Tagg:

The existence of creativity within our Universe leads to important consequences for the structure of that Universe. To be creative we must process information within our brains using non-computable and therefore non-deterministic ‘software’. Such ‘software’ must run on non-deterministic ‘hardware’ through all the layers of abstraction, otherwise you could simply examine the more abstract model and determine what the lower layers are going to do. If humans run creative ‘software’ within their brains, the ‘hardware’ of the Universe must be non-deterministic.

Geoffery LaForte’s criticism of the Penrose-Lucas interpretation typifies the reaction against non-computational arguments. In his conclusion, he writes:

Theorems of the Gödel and Turing kind are not at odds with the computationalist vision, but with a kind of grandiose self-confidence that human thought has some kind of magical quality which resists rational description. The picture of the human mind sketched by the computationalist thesis accepts the limitations placed on us by Gödel, and predicts that human abilities are limited by computational restrictions of the kind that Penrose and others find so unacceptable.

I think that the language here exposes, ironically, an agenda in the service of impersonality in science which is highly emotional and personal (and unscientific). The essence of the objections found in LaForte’s paper are that we cannot prove our own consistency mathematically, so that somehow Penrose’s authority to affirm itself is more objectionable than his own authority to attack itself. What is mistaken for a ‘grandiose self-confidence’ is, in my view, no more than a minimum level of self-trust.

To say that all that resists rational description is magical is itself a petito principii fallacy, in which a foregone conclusion of universal determinism is itself used as the only support for a deterministic view of Gödel. What is overlooked is the fact that any argument against the consistency of human intuition is also an argument against that argument itself. It is to say, “I know with certainty that I cannot know anything with certainty”. That statement is a Gödel sentence whose absurdity oddly never occurs to LaForte as far as I can tell. What results is a straw man of the Penrose position in which human consciousness is reduced to a toy model.

In this toy model of determinsm-mechanism, the myriad of different aesthetic layers and modalities of human awareness are conflated into a single, unreliable process of computation rather than a fundamental creative context in which all notions of reliability are conceived in the first place. Daniel Dennett and others commit a similar mistake when they point out the limitations of perception (optical illusions, change blindness, etc) rather than the overwhelmingly consistent baseline of verdical perception from which we form such expectations. This rather aggressive approach forces line of demarcation such that all perceptions must be either true data from the outside world or solipsistic confabulations. My interpretation is precisely the opposite and can be understood through that opposition. MSR proposes the idea that consciousness and cosmos are a continuum of aesthetic presentation which range between high-amplitude metaphors (semi-local/semi-dual) and low-amplitude semaphores which have strictly contained meaning (thermodynamically irreversible, binary dualism, absolutely local or non-local axiomatic).

Early on in the paper, LaForte asks rhetorically “Now, why does this theorem seem so significant to anti-computationalists like Penrose and Lucas?” To insinuate that anti-computationalists have some kind of special fixation on this theorem is ironic, and representative of a whole class of similar accusations from the mechanistic camp. Mechanism asserts that human thought is reducible to computation, but it invariably carries a shadow assertion that some human thought is inherently corrupted by emotional rather than mathematical content. If we are all really machines, then Penrose is a machine, and if he finds incompleteness to be significant, then that can only mean that his mental process is determined to find it significant. The whole question of where error comes from in a mechanistic universe is recursive. If there is error, then mechanism is failing, and it therefore cannot be perfect. There must be a difference between the ideal of mechanism and the empirical fact of its expression…but how can that difference be generated by ideal mechanism?

The answer to that question is part of what the concept of subjective inflation might provide. De-Orchestrated Subjective Inflation (De-Orch SI*) amounts to the birth of privilege. The privilege to separate from the totality for some period to develop preferences and to care about those preferences. Subjectivity is a proprietary sense of dominion which allows the opportunity for extension – extension of feeling, knowing, doing, and being. This is felt as a kind of radius of involvement, or perhaps a tunnel of experiential inertia. For biological creatures, this inflation may be tied directly to cytoskeletal structure of microtubules. The tunnel is one of orientation and presence, like a cursor, which separates aesthetic dipoles such as here and there, now and then, self and other, etc. The greater the privilege, the more rich and intricate the appreciation of the contrasts can become. Each inflation builds on histories of previous inflations (which ties into a Morphic Resonance or Akashic Record kind of schema) as well as projecting inspirational images into the future.

 

Global Workspace Theory

Continuing with the theme of reversal, the complement to Bernard J. Baars Global Workspace Theory might be something like “Specialized Instrument Theory”. There is a lot of truth to the GWT idea of consciousness as a receiver/distributor for information, however there is an equal case to be made for consciousness as tool which is used to creatively shape itself into various images and ideas, and to impose those aesthetic forms outwardly. GWT conceives of consciousness as working memory and sensation appearing in an empty/dark theater, but I would extend the metaphor to see the theater also as a structure which protects the local awareness from the outside world. The theater of consciousness can only provide a movie if it first temporarily encloses the audience and screen in sensory isolation. Our phenomenal stream of consciousness connects the dots of sentience, but I suggest that the dots themselves are the tips of icebergs which float on an ocean of amnesia…an amnesia which hides the deeper connection of all dots to the universal history of experience. We have come full circle back to the ‘whorlicle’ model.

Unlike a theater, consciousness does not only lull us into a spectacular solipsism, but connects us directly to a potentially eternal realism and to the capacity to tell the difference. In addition to being a screen for interior simulation, the Mercurial screen of consciousness can be a mirror or a window onto truth. The truth can be fashioned through a pen or weapon, through an idea, image, or symbol. Consciousness is a meta-linguistic, meta-semiotic agency which reports on itself as well as its view of its ‘others’.

 

What’s Next?

It seems like this project is at a crossroads. It could be the end, or the end of Part I, but it feels like the stage of adding profusely to the MSR thesis is winding down, and in its wake, some clarity about how it might fit in with other theories. I have tried to give a few examples here of what makes MSR different from theories which focus on outside-in views of consciousness, and how they might be married with their opposites to provide a more complete and meaningful picture. I will consider it successful if everyone can find something in it to piss them off and if at least one person is inspired to re-evaluate the totality of existence in some tormented insomniac revelation. I apologize for the density and the high level of noise in what I have been writing, but at least its out here in some form. In the spirit of Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary, I say to my critics that I am even stupider and crazier than you think, and that you should spend your time elsewhere.  Everyone gets the Multisense Realism that they deserve!

 

*This sounds like I’m being satirical in calling it that, but I’m trying to show the syzygy.

Into the Interlipse

February 8, 2014 2 comments

Flipping Nilipsism into Solipsism

MW: The world we humans create is fiction, the reality is what existed pre-human and will exist post-human and I suspect forever unknowable. Our existence is all froth.

S33: That’s only because you are viewing the universe from the perspective of an omniscient, immortal voyeur. The contrary view holds that the universe which is not experienced by humans can never exist for humans, so that all but our existence is irrelevant. It’s a fractal. All that you can ever experience is that part of the universe which relates to some aspect of your experience of it. There can never be any other universe for you, you will never experience a universe in which you are not present experiencing it, so there can be no difference between your own life and eternity, except in your imagination. Everything outside of your life is fiction, relative to your frame of reference.

Interlipsism: A View From Everywhere

The word interlipse came to me in between sleeping and waking (hypnopompic), and it appears to have no established meaning. Etymologically, ellipse and ellipsis get their meaning from ‘a falling short’. I use the word elliptical to describe the soft-boundary nature of subjects/concepts/words, as compared to the relatively discrete boundaries of objective phenomena. In this context the word interliptical could be used to define this effect more specifically. As the number of words in a language grows, the greater the potential of those words is to be more precisely defined, and more broadly associated figuratively as well.

I’m not even sure if that’s true, but it seems like it could be. The interliptical quality is the degree to which meaning develops both elliptically (metaphorically) and semphorically (digitally) at the same time. Aesthetically it reminds me of how developer solution chemically teases out clarity and contrast from the entropy of a raw photographic exposure. Instead of assuming that words originate as collections of separate sounds, or an image is built sequentially from pixels, both the irreducible gestalt and the elementary particle are aesthetic perspectives that precipitate from the interlipse. Something like a fractal of lensing lenses.

Chess, Media, and Art

January 15, 2014 Leave a comment

I was listening to Brian Regan’s comedy bit about chess, and how a checkmate is such an unsatisfying ending compared to other games and sports. This is interesting from the standpoint of the insufficiency of information to account for all of reality. Because chess is a game that is entirely defined by logical rules, the ending is a mathematical certainty, given a certain number of moves. That number of moves depends on the computational resources which can be brought to bear on the game, so that a sufficiently powerful calculator will always beat a human player, since human computation is slower and buggier than semiconductors. The large-but-finite number of moves and games* will be parsed much more rapidly and thoroughly by a computer than a person could.

This deterministic structure is very different (as Brian Regan points out) from something like football, where the satisfaction of game play is derived explicitly from the consummation of the play. It is not enough to be able to claim that statistically an opponent’s win is impossible, because in reality statistics are only theoretical. A game played in reality rather than in theory depends on things like the weather and can require a referee. Computers are great at games which depend only on information, but have no sense of satisfaction in aesthetic realism.

In contrast to mechanical determinism, the appearance of clichés presents a softer kind of determinism. Even though there are countless ways that a fictional story could end, the tropes of storytelling provide a feedback loop between audiences and authors which can be as deterministic -in theory- as the literal determinism of chess. By switching the orientation from digital/binary rules to metaphorical/ideal themes, it is the determinism itself which becomes probabilistic. The penalty of making a movie which deviates too far from the expectations of the audience is that it will not be well received by enough people to make it worth producing. Indeed, most of what is produced in film, TV, and even gaming is little more than a skeleton of clichés dressed up in more clichés.

The pull of the cliché is a kind of moral gravity – a social conditioning in which normative thoughts and feelings are reinforced and rewarded. Art and life do not reflect each other so much as they reflect a common sense of shared reassurance in the face of uncertainty. Fine art plays with breaking boundaries, but playfully – it pretends to confront the status quo, but it does so within a culturally sanctioned space. I think that satire is tolerated in Western-objective society because of its departure from the subjective (“Eastern”) worldview, in which meaning and matter are not clearly divided. Satire is seen as both not as threatening to the material-commercial machine, which does not depend on human sentiments to run, and also the controversy that satire produces can be used to drive consumer demands. Something like The Simpsons can be both a genuinely subversive comedy, as well as a fully merchandized, commercial meme-generating partner of FOX.

What lies between the literally closed world of logical rules and the figuratively open world of surreal ideals is what I would call reality. The games that are played in fact rather than just in theory, which share timeless themes but also embody a specific theme of their own are the true source of physical sustenance. Reality emerges from the center out, and from the peripheries in.

*“A guesstimate is that the maximum logical possible positions are somewhere in the region of +-140,100,033, including trans-positional positions, giving the approximation of 4,670,033 maximum logical possible games”

Epistemology and Ontology

January 13, 2014 Leave a comment

“I think you’re conflating with Ontology/Metaphysics with Epistemology.”

Epistemology only becomes possible with a degree of ontological distance. Within our own most immediate experience, there can be no question of anything hidden or unhidden. “Here and now” is self-evident – it is maximally predictable and maximally unpredictable. It is only when we have the space of “There and then” that we can speculate on what and how knowledge/information differs from chaos/entropy. It is insensitivity which opens a breach of possibility and theory.

MSR: Perceptual Inertial Frames

January 3, 2014 Leave a comment

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Reverse Fallacies for Considerations of Consciousness

December 31, 2013 Leave a comment

Special pleading is a formal logical fallacy where a participant demands special considerations for a particular premise of theirs. Usually this is because in order for their argument to work, they need to provide some way to get out of a logical inconsistency – in a lot of cases, this will be the fact that their argument contradicts past arguments or actions. Therefore, they introduce a “special case” or an exception to their rules.

While this is acceptable in genuine special cases, it becomes a formal fallacy when a person doesn’t adequately justify why the case is special.

[…] the “naturalistic fallacy”  is close to but not identical with the fallacious appeal to nature, the claim that what is natural is inherently good or right, and that what is unnatural is inherently bad or wrong.

The Normative Fallacy occurs, rather, when someone attempts to argue that something is not the case or is the case based on a set of ideological, ethical, moral, political, or other normative commitments.

Cargo Cult: The speech is reproduced in the book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! and on many websites. Feynman based the phrase on a concept in anthropology, the cargo cult, which describes how some pre-scientific cultures interpreted technologically advanced visitors as religious or supernatural figures who brought boons of cargo. Later, in an effort to call for a second visit the natives would develop and engage in complex religious rituals, mirroring the previously observed behavior of the visitors manipulating their machines but without understanding the true nature of those tasks. Just as cargo cultists create mock airports that fail to produce airplanes, cargo cult scientists conduct flawed research that superficially resembles the scientific method, but which fails to produce scientifically useful results.

Here is an excerpt from the book.

In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to imitate things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas—he’s the controller—and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.

Feynman cautioned that to avoid becoming cargo cult scientists, researchers must avoid fooling themselves, be willing to question and doubt their own theories and their own results, and investigate possible flaws in a theory or an experiment. He recommended that researchers adopt an unusually high level of honesty which is rarely encountered in everyday life, and gives examples from advertising, politics, and behavioral psychology to illustrate the everyday dishonesty which should be unacceptable in science.

I’m posting this because it should be pointed out that fallacies can run in both directions. The entire array of Western philosophical argumentation is rooted in the deepest assumption of all – that what we feel and think is unreliable, therefore suspicious, but what happens outside of ourselves, or what we agree that we perceive happening outside of ourselves is above suspicion, by definition. Since there can never be a case where we are right and physics is wrong, all who seek to make a hypothesis about the fundamental nature of subjectivity are put in the awkward position of being judged in their own power to participate in conscious experience by the normative expectations of a system of knowledge which specifically and exhaustively removes all possible traces of subjectivity.

Because the expectation of science itself, as it is currently practiced, obstructs its own view of consciousness with ideology that is assumed to be inescapable and natural, the logical fallacies which are designed protect science are operating in reverse. Any model which suggests phenomenal awareness is a phenomenon being more primitive than objective structures and laws is rejected out of hand as having no evidence. There is no way to put forth the observation that consciousness cannot be under suspicion when it seems entirely likely that no evidence of consciousness outside of its own reports of itself can ever exist. We must instead examine why, if our own delusion and fallacious reasoning is ultimately a product of neurochemistry and evolutionary biology, should we be able to trust our brain’s folk epistemology called science? We might say, well, we know science works because of the evidence – the technology. True, but where but in our own shared experience can evidence be understood? If nature was making the same kind of mistakes that we do, how would we know? Especially given the nature of recent science, where dark matter and energy can suddenly appear and swallow the known universe, and quantum theory has, in some sense, suspended the rule of non-contradiction.

When it comes to consciousness, the Strong AI project has become a Cargo Cult. By imitating the architecture of the brain or of the logical syntax of its behavior, we hope that the consciousness cargo will show up. Instead of an appeal to nature, we now have a bold and unchallenged appeal to science – The claim that what is testable is inherently real, and that what has not yet been made testable and may not be testable is inherently irrelevant. I propose a new logical fallacy – the Abnormative fallacy, which occurs when someone attempts to argue that something is not the case or is the case based on a set of commitments to doctrines which are cynical, robotic, formalistic and held above suspicion by popular inertia. Finally I propose the fallacy of General Pleading, to expose this normative bias stemming from the privilege and power of the dominant perspective which denies the possibility that consciousness is a special case, or THE special case, by definition.

Free Will and the Unconscious

December 15, 2013 Leave a comment

The key oversight, in my opinion, in the approach taken by neuroscientific research into free will (Libet et al) is in the presumption that all that is not available to us personally is ‘unconscious’ rather than conscious sub-personally. When we read these words, we are not conscious of their translation from pixels to patches of contrasting optical conditions, to loops and lines, to letters and words. From the perspective of our personal awareness, the words are presented as a priori readable and meaningful. We are not reminded of learning to read in kindergarten and have no feeling for what the gibberish that we are decoding would look like to someone who could not read English. The presentation of our world is materially altered at the sub-personal, but not ‘unconscious’ level. If it were unconscious, then we would be shocked to find that words were made of lines and loops or pixels.

In the same way, a robotic task is quickly anticipated, even 10 seconds ahead of time, without our personality getting involved. This does not mean that it is not ‘us’ making the choice, only that there is no need for such an easy and insignificant choice to be recognized by another layer of ‘us’, and reported by a third layer of ‘us’ to the personal layer of us.

When we work on the sub-personal level of neurons, we are addressing a layer of reality in which we, as persons, do not exist. Because we have not yet factored in perceptual relativity as a defining existential influence, we are making the mistake of treating a human being as if they were made of generic Legos instead of a single unique and unrepeatable living cell which has intentionally reproduced itself a trillion times over – each carrying the potential for intention and self-modifying teleology.

In Three D: Data, Drama and Deity

November 21, 2013 3 comments

The words semaphore and metaphor are interesting to look at in the context of defining information and significance. Semaphore refers to a ‘bearer of signs’ (like a naval signaling flag), and also in programming to control access to shared resources. In both cases, the sense is of information which is not only an encoded text, but one in which the message pertains to a live event in real time. The semaphore is used to solicit attention to receive information as well as to inform.

I’m tempted to connect the prefix sema- with the etymologically unrelated semi-, as signs can, in some sense, be thought of as ‘half’ of a feeling. The signal provides a functioning form (ordered process of publicly available presence), while the interpretation of the signal provides a private experience of sensory significance.

In the pursuit of Strong AI, computer science has generally assumed that intelligence is, or can only be, a kind of entanglement of semaphores. Concepts are built from the bottom up as bits of data being stepped through a formal process of computation. The theoretical continuity between this ‘semaphoric reckoning’ with human intelligence hinges on the presumption that ‘complexity’ is a quality which is objective and autopoietic. Personally. I do not think that we can presume that, as the nature of any pattern is contingent upon pattern recognition. If we see a strand of DNA as a collection of individual atoms repeating in meaningless sequence, it need not be considered ‘complex’. If we see it instead as a single molecule, or as a recipe book for all life forms, then it would be very complex. I see it as a major problem, in light of the fact that the two phenomena are completely different depending on how we scope our attention to them, to assume that in the absence of any pattern recognition at all there would be or could be a difference between simplicity and complexity. If there is some principle of general aesthetic coherence which makes that determination, then we should name it and make it a requirement in order to have a completed physics.

On the other end of the spectrum that I am laying out, is what can be called metaphor. Where semaphores essentialize the literal and initiate unambiguous communication, metaphors essentialize the figurative and invite the interpreter to use the symbols to unlock their own experience. The semaphore points to the instrument of communication and the location of the transmission in space and time while the metaphor points through the instrument, deriving experiential significance non-locally through time. Semaphoric communication is scientific and mathematical, pulling attention into the public physic, while metaphoric communication is artistic and poetic, loosening attention into the private psyche. The significance of metaphor cannot be located within the text of a communication because it is drawn from common experience. The same fairy tale has a different set of meanings when it is read by a young child versus an English professor.

Taking this comparison to the ultimate extreme, the top-down metaphor can, in addition to seeing through the literal words that constitute it, implicate awareness itself. In contrast to this, the bottom-up semaphore, implicates automaticity – the mindless permutation function of repeating quantic forms. Data refers only to the literal process of ferrying and storing positive logic – additions superimposed on top of a void. Poetry, by overheating signs with subjective entropy, invites a promiscuity of association that, in its resonance and circularity, conjures meta-experience. It revers to ourselves, and to human experience in general. The poem is illogical negativism – it cuts meaning out of a layer cake of a priori human sympathies.

This ties back into another of my favorite dichotomies; that of superstition versus what I am calling substitution (or hypostition). The superstitious mind sees through the text of the world to see the face of God or the Devil behind every mundane coincidence. The psyche is too animated and profuse so that all of nature is read as supernatural and the low end is lost all together. Logic becomes confused and self-fulfilling. Fear and joy dominate reason. Every publicly extended signal becomes a privately intended message and the credibility of the source of the message collapses into naive acceptance or reactionary denial. Pathological denial and acceptance plays into the opposite mental extreme as well. The substitutious mind reduces all message content to the mere functioning of messaging devices. The mind which is attuned to this sub-natural level sees in all experience only the logical expression of simple facts. Even consciousness itself is deconstructed as an entanglement of semaphores. From this view, the poetic and aesthetic truths of the universe are unavailable, and a rigid formalism of reason dominates personal feelings.

It would seem that these two poles are evenly matched – the substitutious semaphore and the superstitious metaphor could be equally valuable and costly. Further consideration reveals that they are not completely symmetric, however. The difference between the poetic and the digital are only visible from the poetic facing side. The digital is effective because it can substitute – it emulates from the bottom of a particular substitution level of granularity. Even Planck scale is a scale that bottoms out with the minimum bit depth for measurement of public physics, rather than experiential privacy which cannot be measured reliably. I submit that it cannot be measured reliably because experience cannot be substituted. Like the top-down metaphor (which I now use as meta-metaphor), consciousness extends from the absolute in a way which is unrepeatable and unprecedented, even as it repeats over and over again.

Between the bookends of sub-phor and super-phor is the phoric range of ordinary experience. Many people do not spend much time contemplating the mysteries of information science or phenomenology, and so live in the more down-to-earth realm of the ordinary. Ironically, rather than cancelling out the mythic and mathematical extremes, the mid-range of awareness is perhaps the more fertile range. Games and sports take on fantastic import, and ordinary communications become soap opera-dramatic. The wide open marketplace of diurnal experience is spiced with both art and science, but the main products are significant in a completely different way. Rather than seeking the infinitessimal/instantaneous or the ultimate/eternal, the presentation of ordinary life seeks fortune and fulfillment personal choice. It contains vast opportunity and vast limitation which make us feel our lives to be both incredibly important and a complete waste of time all at once.

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